Volunteering at a STAR Alliance School

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There are different ways you can volunteer at our schools including:

  • being a Classroom Helper;
  • supporting one-off activities (e.g. school trips);
  • joining the parent/teacher organisation (if you are a parent);
  • being a school governor.

What is a classroom helper?

Classroom Helpers volunteer to assist teachers on a regular basis, usually in primary schools. They help with tasks like listening to pupils read. Reading practice is very labour-intensive, and helpers can make a big difference to teachers and children.

The role of classroom helper

Classroom helpers usually commit to spending regular slots of time in school each week. This time can vary from half an hour to half a day at most.

If you have a child in school, many schools prefer not to put you in your child’s class because they consider it disruptive for your child, and possibly unfair to classmates whose parents can’t volunteer.

Regardless of having children in school, you may wish to volunteer as a classroom helper to gain valuable experience if considering a career in education, maybe as a Teacher or Teaching Assistant.

Classroom helpers make a big difference in improving standards.

How to become a classroom helper

If you’re interested in being a Classroom Helper, contact our member schools – links to their websites can be found on the “Our Members” page.

Before you can work in a school, you will need to have a check by the Disclosure & Barring Service. It’s a standard procedure to help safeguard children in our care.

You’ll be asked to provide 3 forms of identification (e.g. current passport, driving licence, proof of address) and fill out a straightforward form which is sent off for processing by the school – the check takes 4-6 weeks. If you have any police convictions, you may still be able to volunteer, depending on the kind of conviction.

Other ways to volunteer at a school

Being a classroom helper is only one way to volunteer at a school. There are other things you can do that don’t require a regular commitment.

Teachers often ask for volunteers to help with school trips or to help with drama productions or with one-off events at the school (eg Sports Day). Another way to help is by offering your skills. For example, your work experience may be useful to share with pupils at some point in the curriculum, or perhaps you could run an after school activity.

However, as with being a classroom helper, if you have a child in school you won’t necessarily be helping in your child’s year. Also, as with Classroom Helpers you will not be allowed to work unaccompanied with our children unless you have a current DBS certificate

Parent/Teacher Organisation

Parent/Teacher organisations (often known as PTA or Friends of xxx school) often play a key role in our STAR Alliance schools by organising and running events that benefit our children. Some of these events raise funds to enable schools to buy new resources and enhance the educational provision within the school. More details about individual school parent/teacher organisations can be found on school websites – links to their websites can be found on the “Our Members” page.

What is a school governor?

School governors are people who want to make a positive contribution to children’s education.

Governors are one of the largest volunteer forces in the country and have an important part to play in raising school standards. The role of the governing board is absolutely key to the effectiveness of a school. Time and time again Ofsted (the national inspection body for schools) has noted that the most effective schools demonstrate effective leadership and management – including by the governing board.

School governors provide strategic leadership and accountability in schools. Governors appoint the head teacher and deputy headteacher. In some schools the site is owned by the governing board. It is governors who hold the main responsibility for finance in schools, and it is governors who work with the headteacher to make the tough decisions about balancing resources. Take a look at a role description, produced by the National Governors’ Association (NGA), What do governors do? 

Each individual governor is a member of a governing board, which is established in law as a corporate body. Individual governors may not act independently of the rest of the governing board; decisions are the joint responsibility of the governing board.

The role of the governing board is a strategic one, its key functions are to:

  • set the aims and objectives for the school
  • set the policies for achieving those aims and objectives
  • set the targets for achieving those aims and objectives
  • monitor and evaluate the progress the school is making towards achievement of its aims and objectives
  • be a source of challenge and support to the headteacher (a critical friend)

Who can be a school governor?

Almost anyone over 18 years of age can become a governor. There are no particular qualifications or requirements, other than a willingness to give time to the role and a capacity for working with other people.   You don’t have to be a parent with a child at the school. However, every governing body includes parent governors, and it can be a rewarding way to be involved in your child’s school.

The most important qualities for being a governor are enthusiasm, commitment and an interest in education. You don’t need teaching experience, but it’s useful to bring skills from other areas of your life.

What does the role involve?

At most schools you’ll need to attend a governors’ meeting each half term, be it a meeting of the Full Governing Body or a sub-committees which cover different areas like the curriculum, finance or staffing. Most governors also take on a link role whereby they focus individually on a particular area important to the school, so it is beneficial if you are able to make time to visit the school. You’ll need to be able to work well in a team, as you’ll be making joint decisions on policy.

It can be time-consuming, but is a rewarding and important role.

Demands on your time depend partly on how the school is doing generally. Being a governor will be a busy role if the school’s results are getting worse or it’s going through a big change like appointing a new headteacher, or joining with another school.

As a governor you’ll probably need to work eight to ten hours a month, assuming the school is in a reasonable position.

Being a Governor at a STAR Alliance school automatically enters you into the wider family of STAR Alliance Governors, pooling knowledge and experience from governors across all Core and Associate schools. The mix of primary and secondary expertise within the Alliance is part of what makes us unique, and we are proud to extend this approach to the development of each STAR governing body.

As a STAR Alliance Governor you will also be able to access a range of training opportunities to help fulfil your role effectively.

How do I become a STAR Teaching School Alliance School Governor?

Parent Governors are elected and all parents at a school will be told of vacancies as they arise.

Alternatively, you may have skills required by a Governing Body in the STAR Alliance in which case you could volunteer to be a Co-opted Governor. Appointment to Co-opted Governor roles are made by the Governing Body of the school concerned.

If you’re interested in becoming a Co-opted Governor, please complete the contact form below giving relevant details about yourself (e.g. why you would like to be a governor, particular skills, experience, schools you would be willing to support and contact details). The STAR Alliance keeps a central record of willing governor volunteers for use by schools in the Alliance as need arises. Any current needs will be shown on our website.

Before you put yourself forward, talk to your employer. Many employers recognise the role of school governor as useful work experience and may offer paid leave for governor duties.

As a school governor, you will need to have a check by the Disclosure & Barring Service. It’s a standard procedure to help safeguard children in our care.

You’ll be asked to provide 3 forms of identification (e.g. current passport, driving licence, proof of address) and fill out a straightforward form which is sent off for processing by the school – the check takes 4-6 weeks. If you have any police convictions, you may still be able to volunteer, depending on the kind of conviction.

Your Name (required)

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Subject: I'm interested in becoming a Governor in a STAR Alliance School

Your Message (please include information such as why you would like to be a governor, particular skills, experience, schools you would be willing to support and contact details)